WHOSE MEMORY ARE YOU?
By Jane Dovidio-Gagliardo
“Whose Memory Are You?” Maybe this question should be “Who do you hold in
your memories that has helped to shape your life?” Who do you admire? Who has
given you that life-changing AHA moment that you will carry with you for the rest
of your life? I believe each of us have had or will have an impact on someone’s
life at some point. So, who do you want to be remembered by and how do you
want to be remembered?
There was a study done by the Virginia School of Journalism in 1983 that had a
class of students write their own obituaries. Interesting enough, most of the
obituaries written credited people who changed their lives for the better. People,
who had directly influenced them, in some profound way, were the object of their
memories. Only 2% of the self-written obituaries spoke of a deceased person.
Instead, the self-written obituaries praised people they knew personally for the
successful outcomes they had experienced. I support a grief group for women who
have suffered great loss because of the death of a loved one. And this was one of
the exercises we did. Interesting enough the same results occurred. The group
spoke of the people who had a direct impact on their lives. These very people
were, in fact, their “Memory.”
What would you want someone to remember about you after you have passed
over? For me, I want people to remember me as being honest, loving, and true to
myself and others. These are personal attributes I work on every day. While I was
born with some sense of these values, the dark part of being raised in a
dysfunctional family is that pure soul within me was battered and left broken many
times. But I refused to stay broken. I started therapy and knew there was an
amazing person within me who deserved better treatment than I received from my
parents and family. So, every day I work on allowing this “amazing person” to be
and remain the dominant force in my life. I work to be better… to be remembered
in someone’s “Memory” in a positive way. I raised three sons and I did the best I
could for them by striving to instill good habits and values into their minds and
hearts. As most parents know, children do not come with directions or a return
label. We are charged with the duty of just doing the best we can.
Often in the work I do, I find that parents seldom linger in the memory of their
children in a positive way. I also think we learn or at least should learn from the
people who enter our lives… including our children. Because I choose to maintain
an open mind and heart, I’m always learning from my children and grandchildren
and hope that they have fond memories of me as we all work to evolve into the
best people we can be. Sometimes I don’t like what I see; but nonetheless, it’s still
a life lesson that teaches me something about human nature and life, in general.
For this, I believe I am a better person. So, before I close, I want to leave you with
this assignment: Sit down and write your own obituary. Put it away for six
months and then reread it and see what you would change or how you feel when
you reread it.
I leave you with this quote; “The Good Life Is A Process, Not A State Of Being, It
Is A Direction Not A Destination. (Carl Rogers) Stay Safe. Stay Strong. Stay